Attempts to delegitimise police, enforcement agencies increasing: Shanmugam

The police and other agencies will not be intimidated by such attempts to delegitimise them, said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - When a woman was apprehended earlier this month at shopping mall Novena Square, a video of her being detained was circulated, with some claiming that the police had abused their power and arrested her for no reason.

This use of misinformation was an attempt to delegitimise the police, said Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam on Friday (Oct 30).

Speaking at the Minister's Awards Presentation Ceremony, which was held online, Mr Shanmugam noted that there has been an increasing number of attempts to delegitimise enforcement agencies.

But the police and other agencies will not be intimidated by such attempts, he added.

"When the police take action, there are some who will claim that investigations are politically motivated, make other baseless claims about law enforcement processes," he said.

He also said that some people want special exemptions from investigations, especially when the allegations against them are serious in nature, such as those involving criminal breach of trust or sexual harassment.

"But the rule of law applies to all, regardless of who you are," said Mr Shanmugam.

The minister said the woman detained at Novena Square is currently receiving treatment at the Institute of Mental Health.

In the incident, she spat at a man and bit his hand, after allegedly pouring a bowl of soup over his head.

The woman also hurled verbal abuse and spat at police officers when they engaged her, and her relatives could not calm her down.

"She was assessed to be posing a danger, to both the public and to herself," Mr Shanmugam said.

Separately, he said a photo showing police officers engaging two madrasah students was misrepresented in July last year.

"The photo was circulated to spread a falsehood, that the officers were conducting spot checks on the two madrasah students, because the officers had a quota to fulfil," he said.

But the officers were actually engaging the students to encourage them to participate in Riders-On-Watch, a community policing initiative enacted last year to keep crime out of transport nodes.

In his speech, Mr Shanmugam also highlighted two other key challenges currently faced by the Home Team: the threat of terrorism, which has not gone away, and the Covid-19 fight.

He said that the Home Team, together with other agencies, has helped to bring down local community transmission to a low level.

But the risk of another wave of infection is ever present, he added.

"The fight may be long. We have to adapt to this new environment, to ensure that the Home Team delivers on our core mission of keeping Singapore safe and secure," he added.

On Friday, 189 awards were given out to outstanding officers, teams and agencies that had demonstrated efficiency and competency in major operations, cases and projects, or displayed high standards of innovation and service excellence in the course of their work.

Recipients included a team of police officers involved in Operation Unmask, which saw 21 people arrested for their participation in more than 440 e-commerce scam cases.

These scams, relating to the sale of face masks, cheated victims of more than $10 million in total.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.